Rugby Championship: Willie le Roux braced for All Blacks backlash

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 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Springbok full-back Willie le Roux said they are bracing themselves for a massive onslaught when they take on the All Blacks in back-to-back fixtures in Mbombela and Johannesburg over the next two weeks.

South Africa are in a confident mood after sealing a series victory over Wales earlier this month while New Zealand have their backs to the wall after losing four of their last five matches, including a home series defeat to Ireland.

Wary of wounded All Blacks

Winning those two matches will put the Boks in a favourable position ahead of their Rugby Championship tour to Australia and Argentina and although the Boks will head into their Tests against the All Blacks as favourites, Le Roux warned that their arch rivals still pose a dangerous threat.

“I wouldn’t say it (the Boks’ Rugby Championship draw) is an advantage,” Le Roux told the Springboks’ official website.

“Obviously, we are excited to play at home in front of our supporters in Nelspruit and Johannesburg, and then we have a tour against Australia and Argentina before coming back home for our last Test, so it’s going to be a good challenge for us.

“Matches between the Springboks and All Blacks are always big games, and it is one of the biggest rivalries in world rugby. The fact they come off defeats against Ireland will inspire them even more going into the next few games. I have no doubt they will come here and give their best.

“They’ll definitely want to turn things around, so the important things for us will be to show who we are and to ensure that we do not disappoint our fans.”

The last encounter between South Africa and New Zealand saw the Boks clinching a narrow 31-29 win and Le Roux expects improvement from the All Blacks.

“But we intend to give our best, and we know the matches will not be a disappointment for anyone,” he added.

The 32-year-old started the Boks’ last Test on the bench with the younger Damian Willemse starting at full-back. Despite not being in the starting line-up, Le Roux does not believe that his role in the Bok set-up has changed.

“I wouldn’t say I am a mentor to Damian,” said Le Roux.

Still learning

“We are in the same team, and we learn from one another. I’m still learning from him and Warrick (Gelant) as well, just as they do from me.

“That said, Damian and I have a good connection and we also come from the school (Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch).”

READ MORE: Rugby Championship preview: Springboks to continue progress by winning tournament

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